Workaholics aboard: Japan bullet train to debut telework cars

Nozomi bullet trains in Japan will offer cushions and foldable partitions for riders’ computers in their telework car. (Photo courtesy of Central Japan Railway)

Nikkei staff writers | Japan

TOKYO — As Japanese companies increasingly embrace flexible work arrangements during the pandemic, even an operator of bullet trains is having to accommodate passengers who choose to telework during the 2.5-hour trip between Tokyo and Osaka.

Nozomi shinkansen trains connecting the two megacities will have a designated “telework” car with double the Wi-Fi capacity of other carriages, starting in October, Central Japan Railway said Thursday.

“More people are looking to work from anywhere at any time, and shinkansen trains will adapt to this demand,” said Shin Kaneko, president of Central Japan Railway.

Passengers will be able to access the Wi-Fi service with no extra cost. They can also borrow USB chargers, privacy shields for computer screens as well as miniature mice for free. Wireless signals will be encrypted to ensure security.

This service is limited to the N700S trains, the latest model for the Nozomi. It will be offered on the Tokaido shinkansen line between Tokyo and Osaka, as well as the Sanyo line serving western Japan.

Ticket prices will be the same as regular reserved seating. Bookings will be accepted starting next month exclusively through an online reservation service for members.

Starting next spring, the rail operator will convert the smoking areas between cars in new Nozomi trains into booths for meetings and other business uses. It also plans to install booths at Tokyo and Nagoya stations in December, which subscribers will be able to rent for a fee.

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